06/11/2014 04:32 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2014

News Outlets Urge Senate To Pass Shield Law

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News outlets and press freedom groups have sent the Senate a letter pressing lawmakers to pass a media shield law.

Politico reported Wednesday that over 70 organizations signed the letter, saying that a federal shield law to protect journalists' sources is "needed now more than ever."

Journalists have been calling for the Senate to pass new protections for journalists for months now, but there's new urgency now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from New York Times reporter James Risen. Risen has been ordered to testify about his sources in the case of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of revealing government secrets.

If Risen refuses to testify, he may be found guilty of contempt.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Free Flow of Information Act last September, but the bill has yet to reach the Senate floor. A broad coalition of news outlets and other organizations expressed their support for the bill at the time.

The issue of a federal shield law has gained new relevance thanks to the Obama administration's attitude towards journalists. Reporters have talked about the chilling effect that set in after the Justice Department secretly obtained AP phone records last year, and also named Fox News reporter James Rosen a co-conspirator in a leak case.